It was a very interesting week in the American Athletic Conference, with Tulane notching it’s first conference win of the season, and Tulsa pulling off two big upsets. Houston and Memphis each lost their second conference game of the season, dropping them 1.5 and 2.0 games back of Cincinnati, respectively. There were several close games all around the league this week, so let’s take a look at how each team fared.
No. 11 USF (6-10, 0-5) (LW 10)
A tough season for the Bulls just got a lot worse. USF dropped to 0-5 in conference, including a home loss to Tulane. The Bulls have now lost five straight games, and have seven difficult games in a row coming up on their schedule. After falling behind to Memphis by 16 points on Saturday, they were almost able to complete the comeback, before ultimately falling 62-56. Their next realistic chance for a victory is probably Feb. 11 when they take on ECU.
This week: at UCF, vs. Tulsa
No. 10 Tulane (4-13, 1-4) (LW 11)
Tulane stopped its five-game losing streak with an 82-67 road victory over USF on Wednesday. It was a matchup of the two worst teams in the conference, but most expected USF to prevail. The game was close at halftime, but the Green Wave dominated in the second half thanks to Kain Harris. The sophomore scored a career-high 27 points in just 25 minutes to help Tulane secure the victory.
This week: at Tulsa, vs. Cincinnati
No. 9 East Carolina (9-10, 1-5) (LW 9)
ECU lost both of its games again this week, running its losing streak to five games. The Pirates were easily defeated by Houston earlier in the week, before giving Cincinnati all it could handle on Sunday night. Freshmen Elijah Hughes and Jeremy Sheppard combined to score 31 of the Pirates 46 points against the Bearcats, including all of the Pirates’ first half points. Cincinnati proved to be just a bit better defensively though and pulled out the 55-46 victory.
This week: at Connecticut
No. 8. UConn (7-10, 2-3) (LW 8)
The Huskies split their games again this week, this time picking up a big conference win against Temple before falling to Georgetown on Saturday. Kentan Facey scored 23 points and added 10 rebounds to lead the Huskies in the victory over Temple. Freshman Vance Jackson nabbed AAC Rookie of the Week honors thanks to two solid all-around games, averaging 11.5 points and three rebounds per game.
This week: at SMU, vs. ECU
No. 7 Temple (10-9, 1-5) (LW 6)
Temple continues a slow, steady downward spiral. It was ranked first in our initial AAC power rankings, and now its fallen to seventh. The Owls lost to both Connecticut and Tulsa last week, and now have Cincinnati, Memphis and Houston next on their schedule. Their season and tournament hopes are dependent on how well they perform over the next two weeks. If they continue playing like they have since conference play started then a once promising season with two victories over top 25 opponents will likely end in disappointment.
This week: at Cincinnati
No. 6 Tulsa (9-7, 3-1) (LW 7)
Tulsa surprised everyone this week by beating Memphis, and then going on the road to Philadelphia and beating Temple. The Golden Hurricane have moved all the way up to fourth place in the conference, just 1.5 games behind Cincinnati.
Sophomore guard Sterling Taplin won AAC Player of the Week honors after he averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals. He also hit the game-winner against Temple with just four seconds remaining.
This week: vs. Memphis, at Temple
No. 5 UCF (13-4, 4-1) (LW 5)
The Knights rebounded from their loss to Connecticut by beating Houston 77-70 on Saturday. Guard BJ Taylor earned selection to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll by scoring 20 points and adding three assists and two steals in the victory. All five UCF starters scored in double digits, and the starters accounted for 71 of the 77 points they scored in the game.
Sophomore center Tacko Fall rebounded from back-to-back scoreless games to score 11 points with seven rebounds and two blocks.
This week: vs. USF, at Memphis
No. 4 Houston (13-5, 4-2) (LW 4)
Houston split a pair of road games last week, beating ECU before falling to UCF. Rob Gray averaged 23.5 points, two rebounds and four assists per game and garnered AAC weekly honor roll status last week. Houston’s lack of depth hurt it against UCF. It’s bench didn’t score a single point on 0-of-7 shooting from the field. The Cougars have a big week coming up with a pair of conference leaders in Memphis and SMU on the schedule.
This week: vs Memphis, at SMU
No. 3 Memphis (13-5, 3-2) (LW 3)
It was supposed to be an easy week for the Tigers. Memphis lost to Tulsa, before barely pulling out a 62-56 victory over USF on Sunday. The Tigers shot just 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from behind the three point line against the Bulls. All five starters played more than 35 minutes in a game Memphis had hoped would be little break before facing Houston and UCF this week.
This week: at Houston, vs. UCF
No. 2 SMU (15-4, 5-1) (LW 2)
Despite falling into an early deficit against Cincinnati, the Mustangs battled back and nearly beat the Bearcats on the road. Sterling Brown scored 20 points and added 11 rebounds in the game while the team out-rebounded Cincinnati 37-27.
The Mustangs returned from the loss to easily defeat Tulane later in the week. Sophomore Jarrey Foster scored a career-high 19 points and added six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the victory.
This week: vs. Connecticut, vs. Houston
No. 1 Cincinnati (15-2, 5-0) (LW 1)
Kyle Washington was selected to the AAC weekly honor roll after averaging 13.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks while the Bearcats swept SMU and ECU. Neither game was easy, and SMU nearly erased an early 16 point deficit, but Cincinnati escaped both with victories to remain undefeated in AAC action.
After struggling from the foul line all season, the Bearcats hit 15-of-17 foul shots against East Carolina to help pull out that victory. Cincinnati was able to hold East Carolina to just 15-of-59 (25.4%) shooting from the field and are now ranked third in the country in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
This week: vs. Temple, at Tulane